Why Do Ads that Diss Women Get Removed while Ads that Diss Men are Funny?

I was just reading over at the Daily Mail about a Rebok ad in Germany that was removed due to it’s offensive nature:

A controversial Reebok ad has been removed from display following widespread complaints.

The poster, which ran at a gym affiliated with the brand in Germany, was intended to motivate, with the slogan: ‘Cheat on your girlfriend, not on your workout.’

Instead, however, it was met with a consumer backlash, and the sportswear firm pulled the ad and acknowledged that it was ‘offensive’.


So, Rebok pulls their ad and apologizes for being offensive to women but men are punched, beaten, abused, have coffee thrown on them and portrayed as stammering morons in the media and that’s okay with consumers or even funny? Jim Macnamara, author of Media and Male Identity: The Making and Remaking of Men did a PHD Dissertation looking at men and the media and found the following:

The study involved collection of all editorial content referring to or portraying men from 650 newspaper editions (450 broadsheets and 200 tabloids), 130 magazines, 125 TV news bulletins, 147 TV current affairs programs, 125 talk show episodes, and 108 TV lifestyle program episodes from 20 of the highest circulation and rating newspapers, magazines and TV programs over a six-month period. Media articles were examined using in-depth quantitative and qualitative content analysis methodology.

The research found that, by volume, 69 per cent of mass media reporting and commentary on men was unfavourable compared with just 12 per cent favourable and 19 per cent neutral or balanced. Men were predominately reported or portrayed in mass media as villains, aggressors, perverts and philanderers, with more than 75 per cent of all mass media representations of men and male identities showing men in one of these four ways. More than 80 per cent of media mentions of men, in total, were negative, compared with 18.4 per cent of mentions which showed men in a positive role.

The overwhelmingly negative reporting and portrayals of men in mass media news, current affairs, talk shows and lifestyle media was mainly in relation to violence and aggression. Violent crime, including murder, assault, armed robberies and attacks such as bashings, accounted for almost 40 per cent of all media reporting of male violence and aggression, followed by sexual abuse (20.5 per cent), general crime (18.6 per cent) and domestic violence (7.3 per cent).


Some people think the negative portrayal is “no big deal.” But it is a big deal. This portrayal of men is dangerous to society as it causes people to stereotype men and see them as dangerous perverts. Men are reacting to this stereotype by going on strike, avoiding interactions with women and children; they no longer work with kids, volunteer as often or get married as readily for fear of a legal or cultural backlash. Many are “going Galt.” These are not positive developments for society. So, yes, negative portrayals of men are a big deal.

Update: You can listen to my interview on the topic of negative portrayals of men in the media with radio host Brian Wilson here.


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